United States 2, Cuba 10



6:00 AM ET
August 22, 2008

Cuba heads to gold-medal game; U.S. vs. Japan for bronze

Updated: August 22, 2008, 9:45 AM ET

BEIJING (AP) -- The U.S. baseball team will find no gold in Beijing. And Cuba is back in a place it knows so well -- playing for another Olympic title.

Alexei Bell hit a three-run homer in the eighth to put the punctuation mark on the Cubans' 10-2 rout of the United States on Friday night.

He raised his hand to signal No. 1 while rounding the bases, then Ariel Pestano added his own three-run shot three batters later to seal it.

Alfredo Despaigne hit his second homer against the Americans this tournament and Frederich Cepeda also connected.

Anything less than gold will be considered a failure for the Cubans, who have won three of the previous four Olympic tournaments since baseball became a medal sport in 1992.

Cuba (7-1) will play Saturday night against unbeaten South Korea (8-0), and the U.S. (5-3) will face Japan for bronze in the first game of the day. South Korea defeated Japan 6-2 in Friday's first semifinal.

After the final out, the Cubans celebrated mildly on the mound. The Cuban team includes Antonio Castro, the team doctor and son of the country's former president, Fidel Castro.

Cuba finished runner-up to the U.S. in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics before winning again four years later in Athens. Winning gold in China might mean even more to the island, considering baseball will be off the Olympic program for the 2012 London Games and might not be back.

Wukesong Stadium was nearly full save for a few open seats in the outfield bleachers. Cuba's fans chanted "Let's go Cuba!" in Chinese, standing to clap and wave their country's flag. They even had their share of supporters from China.